SPOKANE, Wash. — The BYU men's basketball team was hoping for a big road win, but "The Kennel" was hardly the place to get one. Gonzaga jumped on the Cougars early and was rarely challenged on its way to a resounding 83-63 victory.
The Cougars looked completely overmatched and lethargic from the opening tip — hardly ever getting after the No. 10-ranked Zags, who focused their efforts on shutting down both Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies with double teams.
The defensive strategy worked like a charm.
Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk owned what was billed as a premier matchup between the two most-dominant post players in the West Coast conference. Olynyk provided his regular dominating presence on both ends while Davies was lethargic and completely out of sorts.
Olynyk did his best work early when Gonzaga built its lead and late to stave off BYU's comeback efforts. He finished with a game-high 26 points on perfect 9-9 shooting from the field and 8-8 shooting from the line. Forward Elias Harris added 25 points.
Davies did his best work in the second half and finished with 14 points on 5-13 shooting, but struggled mightily in the first half.
Haws struggled mightily in both halves and didn't score a point until the 7:10 mark of the second half on a made free throw. It was the only point he scored, as he finished with nary a field goal, missing on all nine attempts.
The Zags got off to an early 11-3 lead, forcing the Cougars into an early timeout at the 17:45 mark. BYU closed to trail 15-8 with 11:45 remaining, but that was as close as it would get.
Gonzaga poured it on from there.
Following the game’s third timeout the Zags mounted a 21-6 run to lead 36-14 with two minutes remaining. The Cougars made a little headway to close the half, but still trailed 40-21 at the break.
Haws finished the half scoreless on 0-6 shooting from the field. The Zags focused much of their defensive effort on shutting down the league’s leading scorer, forcing him into tough shots and no offensive production.
Davies wasn’t much better in the first half — scoring just two points on 1-5 shooting from the field, pulling down just a single rebound and committing three turnovers. Josh Sharp led the Cougars at the half with 10 points and perfect 4-4 shooting from the field.
Gonzaga was spurred on by a suffocating defense, which led to a lot of easy chances on the offensive end. The Zags shot 51 percent from the field in the first half and were led by Olynyk and Harris, who led their team with 14 points apiece.
BYU showed a lot more fight in the second half, but the hole it dug in the first proved too deep.
With the win Gonzaga improves to 18-2 and 5-0 in conference play. Next up for the Zags is San Francisco at home Saturday.
With the loss BYU falls to 15-6 over and 5-2 in conference play. The Cougars will next take on Portland on the road Saturday.